From The Founder's Desk
Welcome to October.
As a foundation working for children living with cancer; October is often the month when we feel like we’ve earned the right to take a breather. After launching The Look Again Program in two Primary Health Centers in Lagos state; running the month-long Gold Ribbon Awareness campaign, and partnering with 5 TV stations, 7 radio stations, and 3 Newspaper outlets; we do feel like we’ve done some work this month.
But one thing you learn in this industry is that activity and impact are not necessarily the same thing. So, the month of October for us will be about chasing up the activity and ensuring that the impact is real and sustained, not resting on our imagined laurels. We may be quiet this month, but it is not because we are sleeping; it is because it is time to dig in and truly get the work done.
Someone once said that ‘lions have killed less humans than mosquitoes have’. I found this statement particularly relatable to childhood cancers. We could say that malaria is more common than cancer, and certainly easier and less expensive to combat. But just like we don’t let out a zoo-full of lions; we are not going to ignore cancer in our nation’s children. Overlooking childhood cancers would be akin to allowing said lions into our territory and declaring them ‘safer’ than mosquitoes!
Unfortunately, this seems to be a mistake being made by many societies. We think if we never say it out loud, if we refuse to acknowledge its existence, then maybe, just maybe, it will go away quietly. People don’t like to hear the ‘C-word’. Nobody, including me wants to say the words ‘cancer’ and ‘child’ in the same breath. Cancer is scary; believe me, I know this. There is something I say: “If you are not scared, then you are not paying attention”. As an oncologist working in a busy cancer center, I have seen first-hand what cancer can do to a person’s body, finances, family, and even their mind. So, I get it. However, if a lion walked into my street, ignoring it would not help me deal with my fear or make me feel safer.
I am here today to deliver the unpleasant news that cancer is here. Here in our society, here on our streets. And ignoring it, pretending it doesn’t exist, averting our gaze, will not protect our society. We must seek out, acquire and/or develop the weapons to defeat it.
That is what October will be about for us at TDCF. A month to review, reflect, and re-strategize. We may be quiet, but it’s not because we’ve gone to sleep.